Internet Isolation and workable writing

This week at Inkreadable was one of intermittent isolation. I said intermittent, because while I spent most of last week alone, Jasper was with me for two days. We seem to have resolved at least one Internet issue by switching to Ziggo. A couple of years ago when I had Ziggo, Jasper would walk into my house and the internet fall out. That does not seem to be happening this year. We are both able to teach and work using the same signal and it doesn’t seem to be particularly unstable. Fingers crossed that it stays that way.

The isolation, however, is starting to get to even me. I did not realize how much I relished going to do my non-online things every week. That includes my trip out to Amstelveen to see my one student there, as well as my walk across the park to teach my Dutch guys. It’s just not the same online. With my Dutch guys it doesn’t help that I have only seen one of them and his son. The other one seems to be too busy to come to class as he is severely affected by the current crisis. His main source of income is wholesale food real estate. And it is not a good time to be in food right now. It seems that rent forgiveness is much more of a problem in the food wholesale business then is in the residential sector. I have been enjoying the substitution of my other students nine-year-old son. He and I have been having a good time exploring the different online games that one can learn English with. It’s also been an eye-opener for me because I can use it with other students.

This week marked the beginning of the April camp Nanowrimo and I’m happy to report that I am hitting my goals for the camp. They are as follows: I am hoping to do some serious editing of the current phase of the novel, but also trying to write myself out of a corner. I seem to have a really hard time coming up with new and fresh ideas for the book. So I set myself mini goals every day. Currently it’s 500 words each day and 20 minutes of editing. I’ve been able to make that happen. So the writing really is workable.

The current news regarding the Netherlands and its response to COVID-19, is that we are going to be in isolation for another month at least. That means that the isolation isn’t going to end anytime soon and I’m only hopeful that I’ll have stuff to post over the next couple of weeks. But you might see a shortening of my posts as a result.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Online Organization and Nano (Camp) rebel

Last week, dear readers, was the first week where I transitioned fully online. Every single class I have was managed either through Skype or Zoom. And the transition isn’t over. Starting in April I have more students coming online. My client out in the suburbs of Amsterdam, has, to my surprise, agreed to try a lesson online. As it’s an hour I think it will be absolutely fine. I think he’ll even enjoy using Skype to learn. Especially as he does not have to risk his health to come out and take a class. It will be a bit of a challenge, however, as I am finding it difficult to toggle between the platforms and the things that I am teaching, by which I mean my soft copies of all the documents that I use. I do find it’s much easier, and a little bit more fun to pass out papers in class. It isn’t very good for the environment however. And I do recognize that. Another challenge that I’m finding in this fully online world, is classroom management. I have some very challenging students in my adult Pre-intermediate class. In particular, one who thinks he knows everything and tries to challenge the teacher and defend his arguments, when all I really want him to do is answer the question and move on. But even that I can do it with a bit of aplomb and gentle joking with my student. It occurs to me, dear readers, That I haven’t spoken much about tech issues in the last couple of posts. That isn’t because I haven’t had any. I have had plenty. In fact, the KPN Service has been going out at least once or twice a week for the last two months. On Saturday the Internet went out at 10:30 in the morning and never came back. I was able to connect to the new providers router, and didn’t seem to have any issues in the living room where I teach, but in my bedroom the signal is quite weak. But it always has been so as long as I can teach I’ll be quite happy.

When I say that my whole life has transitioned online, I also mean my personal social life. I don’t mean Jasper. He and I have settled into a routine of him being with me from Saturday to Wednesday, and then he goes to some friends on Thursdays. I find this particularly funny because the friend is walking distance from me but Jasper prefers to go home, rather than to come back to me and spend the night. His house is 40 minutes away door to door. I find this a little bit illogical, but it’s his choice. It gives me a chance to set the house to rights in is absence. But the rest of my personal life is another story. I have a couple of friends who are also VIPKid teachers here in Amsterdam and we get together maybe once a month to hang out and talk. We took that to the next level on Friday night when we met online via Skype. It was an interesting experience meeting my friends boyfriend online, I haven’t met him in person yet. But also interesting because we were able to talk to each other for a full two hours. It was like a real night out.

April marks the beginning of the Amsterdam creative writers club foray into camp Nanowrimo. Several of us are actually going to participate, some of us will start a novel, but I will be true to my nature and I will be a Nana rebel. I am going to edit the hell out of my current novel as I can’t really remember where it was going in the first place. When you get 140 pages into a book, without an outline, you tend to forget where the book was going. Or at least I do. Sometimes as I read further in the book or I’m working on a scene, I get a niggling sensation that something isn’t right. That there’s something earlier in the book that makes what I’m writing at the moment wrong Or if not wrong, at least somewhat implausible. I’m kind of looking forward to giving myself a bit of a schedule. Let’s see if I can maintain it. I plan on starting on April 1 And seeing how far I can get. I had started this process as we were meeting at the bookstore before all of this corona crazy. And I think the best bet is just to continue with it. That way I can see if there’s something that I need to do to change what’s happening. The story is tight and the events make sense, but there’s always room for improvement. I know that the time will come when I can no longer keep this as a work in progress but have to finish it at some point. But that time is not today. But it could be this year.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

My Zoomily and Other Animals

Welcome to Inkreadable’s 100th post, dear readers! Thank you for sticking with me for 100 weeks!

This past week, dear readers, was spent transitioning to a fully online world. Well, mostly. I still go to the park (I haven’t found a virtual way to attend a park yet), and I still make sure to go to the grocery store. I am not one of those people who has stocked up on millions of rolls of toilet paper, nor do I stock up on anything really. I think that’s because I don’t have the space to stock up on anything anyway. But the rest of my life, is definitely all online.

VIPKid’s starting to look like it did before Coronavirus. That is, I have a lot of holes in my schedule. And it’s funny because the kids are still inside and they say they haven’t gone out. At least not for long periods of time apparently. Many of my students are telling me that they go to the park for about an hour and they were face masks when they go out. I wish we could wear face masks here but we can’t find them. And even if I could find them I probably wouldn’t buy it anyway. I’m one of those people who believes that the people that need access to masks are the people in the medical profession. I also think that China has taken social distancing to the next level. Nobody is going out. There is no maintenance of a one and a half meter distance because there is no need. Nearly everything has been delivered to them. Anyhoo, this post was about Zoom and VIPKid has always used Zoom as a platform, but it’s easy because they do all the bells And whistles for you.

What has proven a little bit more difficult is trying to figure out Zoom in the context of the English Center and how to use it for group classes. I found myself in the ridiculous position of having to train other people in Zoom last week. It’s laughable, I know. Me, the least tech person in the world, leading a class of 11 teachers on Zoom. Let’s just say the classroom management was ridiculous. and I do hope that my class of four to six is much easier to manage than the 11 teachers that joined the meeting. The English Center has provided a paid membership for us so that we can have our classes, since the free version only allows a 40 minute meeting length. My classes will be 8 classes of 2 1/2 hours, And two classes at the normal two hour for the Pre-intermediate starting on 24 March.

On the personal side of my life, the Writers Group is already online or at least virtual as it’s kind of counterproductive to sit there and listen to people type, but the American writers group that I founded is fully online and I have been invited to participate. Unfortunately, I can’t really manage the time zone as the meeting from 1 o’clock to 3 o’clock in the morning my time. I suppose I could go to sleep early and then wake up for it. But I’m not sure I want to do that. Even Weightwatchers here in Amsterdam has gone online and we are having our English language meeting on Saturday mornings at 10, but virtually of course on Zoom. That was an experience this past weekend.

All in all, it hasn’t been bad for me, and while I’m a little cabin feverish, I’m not going stir crazy. Yet.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Covid19 Consequences

It seems, dear reader, that the dream is gone. Covid19 had a couple of advantages for me over the last few weeks. Every VIPKid slot that I opened booked. And I was opening from 8 AM until 2 PM. The money was quite nice. Alas, no longer. It looks like the Chinese government has restricted certain segments of the population but the kids are now starting to go outside. As a result, I have seen a drop in bookings. For example, on Sunday I only taught eight classes out of twelve opened. And while it was nice to be done at 1 o’clock in the afternoon, I kind of wish that I was able to get some short notice bookings. Oh well, better the certainty of $11 for a class versus the uncertainty of $13 for a class because if it doesn’t book that you get no money at all.short notice. If it books it’s $13, but if not it’s $0. So better a certain $11 than an uncertain $13.

Covid19 has changed my IRL classes as well. My Monday morning clients are switching to Skype, but my Amstelveen client wants to suspend until April 6. I was going to start teaching a second pre-intermediate English class starting today, but that has been postponed to next Tuesday and has transitioned to online. That means less VIPKid time. Which lessens that chance of a penalty if my internet goes out. I have been lucky so far that it has gone out in the evening and not while I was teaching. I have been taking the percussion to restart the modem every morning before teaching I’ve decided that I don’t really love being forced to stay in the house. And though the Netherlands was fairly copicetic, they have now locked down the country. Only grocery stores and essential stores are open.

My former students are always on my radar and I periodically check in to see if they want lessons or even just to hang out. That is easy to do with your adult clients then it is to do with your kid clients. However, Katya’s mom in Poland actually gave me a really good Facebook recommendation for English lessons and I have gotten a couple of responses for that. We’ll see if it pans out into anything, and I think I’m going to have to set my prices at VIP kid level payment prices because it is a Polish customer and they might not have as much money to spend on lessons but we will have to see.

Lastly, as a result of Covid19, I have taken the heretofore unprecedented step of canceling the writer group for the moment. We have turned into a WhatsApp only group and have decided to meet online until April. It’s a shame really that the virus is causing such turmoil in the world, particularly in the Netherlands where the sun has started to shine after six months of darkness. It’s a big screw you from mother nature. I am off to wander through the park.

That’s all she wrote for this Inkreadable installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

Creative Conference and Dell deliverance

It has been, dear reader, another interesting we get incredible. While I have been able to teach from my own home, the angst that I have experienced over the last few weeks continues. In the first place the modem again went out While Jasper was at my house last week. It took about a half an hour to get it working and I’m very lucky because it was in the evening. I spent most of the rest of the week worried that I wouldn’t be able to teach For VIP kid when I need it to. That fear sadly still continues. My next step I supposed to talk to KP and yet again to have them measure what is happening along their lines.

On the positive side Of tech, I received my new Dell and aside from a small hiccup where I had to reset the network as the driver disappeared on Sunday afternoon, all has been well and I’ve been using that without trouble. I even have two USB C ports. I’m also happy to report that the screen is as good as the screen on my Mac. The bad news is I don’t have a converter to be able to use my headphones and connect to the Internet and be able to teach on power. I’m hoping to resolve that relatively quickly.

In other news it looks like I have a third client, as a friend of mine’s grandson has decided to take English lessons with me. It means going into deepest darkest north, But I think it will be worth it as I have a feeling these parents talk to other parents and that can be nothing but good for me. He is a very engaged young man who has a fairly low level of English, so I have attached the problem of his language learning by giving him the phrases that he needs to get around the US. That’s if he ends up going. This coronavirus business has impacted everything. It also has impacted my plans to travel to the US in April. I am currently trying to change my ticket to leave later in the summer. I’m not sure I want to take the chance that I unknowingly infect my sisters house full of people with issues with something like the coronavirus. Because of course, I don’t really want to make mountains out of mole hills.

The other big news of the week was that I went to a conference, this one presented by McMillin publishing. I went as part of a group of TEC teachers and learned a lot about how to involve video and tech in the classroom. Which was a bit apropos as I have been always struggling with how to be able to use tech in the classroom without having it be an issue for me. I also got a chance to learn how to play with Legos with adults and make Legos as part of a teaching tool in my classroom. I’m not sure but it’s an entire coincidence that there’s a big Lego shop that has opened in Amsterdam. I may have to take a walk there and do some shopping. It’s been a fairly interesting week and incredible. I hope that My tech issues resolved slowly but surely, though I’m fast losing confidence that my Internet will be anywhere in your stable when I need it to be.

That’s all she wrote for this incredible installment. But stay tuned. As always, there is more to come.

WiFi Working and (another) TEC TPD

When last we left off, dear readers, incredibles world was the furthest thing from. The Wi-Fi at my house has been on the fritz for three weeks. And as of the last writing I had yet to see any solutions from KPN. I walked into my house however in the afternoon last Tuesday to find that Jasper was just finishing up with the technician. Apparently the box where my Wi-Fi comes into the house is older than God. It is from the timeWhen the Post telephone and telegraph we’re together and owned by the government. Given that it’s that old is it any wonder that there were problems with the Wi-Fi. The Raiders part of my brain isn’t buying it however. Why would I have had almost no problems with KP in for over a year and then all of a sudden everything went to hell? I suppose that is a question that will be an unsolved mystery in my head for all time.

I have been able to teach up until yesterday with no issues. The next time I teach will be 10 March as I have a bunch of stuff coming up where I have to leave my days free. By far the most interesting is the McMillan learning conference in Utrecht. I’m always excited to learn about new techniques for teaching English. I also find that other teachers are appreciative because I readily share my tips even if they don’t teach English. Because teaching language, any language, is the same. What will work for one language will probably work for another teaching wise. That’s not to say that the grammar is the same or anything like that but simply that the techniques that are used in one language like games or diagramming or Reading comprehension Won’t be taught in exactly the same way in every language.

And speaking of conferences, we had another English Center teacher professional day on Friday. This one focused on group classes only. Which was great because I learned about some things that I did not realize. Like for instance the reason that I couldn’t see what some of my students have been seeing in English central which is an absolutely fabulous English language teaching program, is that I wasn’t given access as a teacher. I do the sent an email to my boss. And I hope that gets rectified kind of soon because it’s a fabulous program to be able to use in a classroom and outside the classroom.

This evening it’s off to north for me. Deepest darkest north a.k.a. where Jasper lives is a place I haven’t been since I moved into the city in 2017. OK, I’m lying, I met a teacher who lives in North and we had coffee there. But other than that I don’t venture into north if I can help it. It will be interesting to see if I can get to the place that I want to go which is called Paradise Appleway, a literal translation from the Dutch. Someone really liked Christian mythology it seems. I wonder if there will be a serpent Lane, a garden of Eden Street, or a flaming sword Boulevard? Just saying. I’m a little nervous because they’ve already canceled once. And you all remember what happened with Carlton in Belton filtered. I do not want a repeat of that situation. It is not worth my time. Fingers crossed that everything turns out OK. And that I don’t have to deal with 20 minute cancellations.

That’s all she wrote for this incredible installment. But stay tuned. As always there is more to come.

WiFi What?

It has been, Dear reader, The week from hell. My Internet crapped out on me on Sunday evening in advance of a full week of teaching for VIP kid, which I haven’t done in quite a While. In fact, I don’t think I had done a full week of VIP kid teaching in Over a year. What with Felix And Carlton, not to mention the English center, I had been able to take Sundays off. That ship is currently foundering off the coast of I have no time. Perhaps when I am able to have another private clients, I can potential he go back to not working on Sundays.

Anyway, my friends in the center of town came through and I have been going to their house at 7:30 every morning to teach from Monday to Friday. But in the meantime, I received a new modem on Wednesday afternoon that I went home to install to see if I didn’t need to teach at their house on Thursday and Friday. And that’s where things get very very interesting. Here is how I understand Internet And networks: when you get a ne router, that router has a number. That number appears in your list of available networks and you connect to it using the WPA password that is on the router box. When you go into your admin settings and you can change the account name to whatever you would like. At least that’s what I thought.

On Wednesday afternoon, I raced out of my friends house to go pick up the router at the pick up point, because of course, Judge ingenuity being what it is, they wouldn’t send it directly to my house where it was needed. instead I had to go pick it up at the post office. I also sent the old router back to KPN. I got back to me 20 minutes later and took it out of the box installed it in exactly the same way as My previous one had been installed. Write down to not taking the DSL cable out of the wall. I fired up the modem and for an instant there was hope.

Hallelujah, I was able to see the new Network. And then my heart sing. For 20 seconds later the new Network disappeared, and all I was able to see it was the two old networks that bear my last name. The good news is that I am able to connect to the Wi-Fi old network Which means that I actually have Internet in the house, but the bad news is that it’s the old network that was iffy and so I didn’t wanna take the chance that I would spend Thursday and Friday teaching and have the network Fall out on me while I was teaching for six hours. So I had to go back and disrupt my very good friends lives for another two days.

Here’s where I have a real problem, Dear reader. Given what I know about how the Internet and network connect in the house, it should not be possible for me to see my old networks connected to my new modem. Am I crazy? Am I seeing something incorrect? Does your old network in fact still exist even after the The router it was attached to is out of your house? So I called K p.m. And they said do a hard reset which I deleted and no joy. It was time to call and smarter reinforcements and K p.m. On Saturday Jasper came over.

What he found surprised even him. It was indeed possible for KPN to store information about networks on their servers so that random modems could pick up signals. What that means as well is that when you do a hard reset you have no password for a time and anyone can get into your system and hack you. It turns out Jasper’s presence in my house was going to prove very lucky indeed. I was quite happily teaching on Sunday using ethernet cable when all of a sudden my Internet went down again. I was not able to connect via mobile hotspot fast enough to get into my class and so lost Hey Ann got dinged with a teacher IT. Never good in VIP kid land.

That’s all she wrote for this incredible installment. But stay tuned. As always there is more to come